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Looking in the Mirror

I have a bad habit.

I measure myself against others.

I know it’s bad and it doesn’t matter how many times people say, “don’t measure yourself against others,” I still do it. It doesn’t matter that I say that to other people, I find myself doing it.

Yesterday, I went to a scholarship breakfast sponsored by a local chapter of an African-American female sorority. The theme was “Hats Off to Sisterhood” and a “loose” requirement was to wear a hat. I am not a hat person; I’m very casual and the one hat I do have is a University of Arizona baseball cap. A good friend, who bought my ticket for the event, had extra hats and told me she would bring me one.

Now, as I stated in the last paragraph, I’m very casual, to a fault. I did not wear jeans, but I wore business casual, not dressy. When I arrived at the hotel, I saw beautiful African-American women wearing these hats one would see at the Kentucky Derby! They were dressed in heels and cocktail-type attire. I was floored! I was embarrassed! Although I wore business casual, I felt like I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt compared to them.

My friend kept reassuring me that I looked fine as I tried on hats. Everybody kept saying, “You look beautiful” but I didn’t feel like I did.

I told you it’s a bad habit.

I had all types of mixed emotions flowing through my head as I looked through the crowd of these fabulous dressed women of color adorned with these fabulous hats. It was more than what I was wearing: I began to think about how all of these women knew each other and I knew only the people from my church.

I began to think about how I have lived here all of my life and I don’t know people! How sad is that? Most of these women come from the East Coast, the South, or the West Coast and they have connections!

I don’t want to sound envious, and I hope I am not by writing about this, but I was worried about how I am not in the community – a person who loved the public, a former journalist, what happened?

So, I thought back to a time where it all began: high school. I was intricately involved in high school: high school newspaper, president of the Black Culture Club (they had that type of club back then because black kids needed a space for identity and purpose in high school other than sports). My involvement in that club promoted a Thanksgiving Concert fundraiser at my school where we invited local church choirs to come and sing. That was a blazing success! This landed speaking engagements for me. I was a keynote speaker at a statewide Black Youth Conference. Prior to all of this, the summer of my junior year, I was a contestant in the Miss National Teen Arizona pageant! I look back and wonder how I got over!

In college, I did not do as much as I did in high school; however, I was the photography editor of the U of A’s yearbook. I loved taking photos and I was hired based on my enthusiasm of taking photos. The job led me to get a part-time job as a sports reporter for high school sports at the Arizona Daily Star, which led me to an internship in the editorial department. As the string of jobs continue, I became a reporter at two newspapers in Moreno Valley California and I was given an award for my reporting and published in a Los Angeles publication.

Then, I was done with California and moved back to Arizona, where I started a weekly publication for the African American community called The Tucson Sun Press. It was free, but if people wanted to subscribe, they could get it mailed to them. I was featured on KVOA-TV, an affiliate for NBC about the newspaper, which was very exciting for me! However, the excitement did not last; an angry man called the Sun Press line and left a nasty racial message and asked, “Why aren’t there white newspapers?”

Ugh.

Internal grumblings were happening within the volunteers of the newspaper and some African-American businesses were not supportive; in fact, the community was less than supportive, so I decided to let it go.

And there it is. I was discouraged. Discouragement played a key role and I went into a quiet room, worked as a teacher, and wrote. I did not frequent events, I did not get into the public eye; I was a hermit.

But, as a hermit, I wrote. I wrote poetry and I delved into my feelings and thoughts. I wrote when I was angry and when I was sad. I wrote when I was happy. I wrote poetry and attempted to write novels and short stories. I found the convenience of self-publishing and published my books and recently, I found camaraderie with my work colleagues and sold my books at a local large book festival! I felt my self confidence rise again and I felt determined to concentrate on my craft in writing.

And then Saturday hit. I saw that I did not know the public, my peers, my community. Although people said affirmations to me, I felt out of place. The keynote speaker had us doing something wonderful: she had us say our name at our table and everybody at the table had to repeat our name and say an African mantra which translates to “I see you.” The reason why, as she explained, is because we go around asking people how they are doing, but we never really pause to listen to people. Therefore, we don’t really “see” the person we are talking to. I loved it!

I have to admit this that sometimes, specifically around African-American women, I feel invisible. I don’t wear braids, not a lot of makeup, big shiny jewelry, nor am I in a sorority. I am different. My two older sisters are in the community and are known; people know who they are and will stop and talk to them; but, I am different. They know me as “the youngest sister.”

Another blow to my ego, happened on Saturday when I got home. I am working on my doctoral degree and I had to submit an assignment on Friday, which I did so. I opened my grade and I got an F. The professor’s comments ripped through my self-esteem like blood on the brain! I had thought I did a pretty good job, but according to the professor’s words, everything was wrong! And to make the wound more painful, his comments were, “If you have any questions, contact me.”

“Yes!” I exclaimed out loud and frightening my poor, sleeping doggy. “I have questions! Why am I doing this?!”

I want to quit going to school, but I have a passion to help teachers, and my dissertation is all about helping teachers become leaders in their school! I have the potential, but I lack the courage. I am in battle and my armor is falling off and it is dented. I guess this is how my students feel when they get a poor grade. Yes, it is damaging and you want to quit.

OK. You’re reading this and saying, “Wow. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself. There are worse things that can happen.” And, you’re right.

I am writing this for a reason.

I don’t need the limelight. I don’t need to be seen. I need the “F” on my assignment to work harder at what I want. I mean, who do I want to please and why do I want to please them? What’s the point to be everybody’s friend or have everybody talk to me? Why do I need that? I’m 53 years old and I have made it so far with few friends in my corner and without a lot of limelight! In my younger years, I was in the limelight like the saying says, “Been there, done that.”

I had to examine myself yesterday and find out why do I allow my emotions to take over my senses? I have appropriate clothes to dress, I just didn’t know what the event was all about: now, I do. I had people at my table who didn’t even look at my clothes and we laughed and talked and loved one another: therefore, I had a good time. The professor gave me comments to improve my assignment and said he is excited to work with me during the residency event next week: I am relieved.

The problem is I overreact. I jump to conclusions, and the truth is I judge others. That’s the the problem. People are doing what they need to do and what they are passionate about! I should do the same thing. While I am spending precious moments worrying about what I am or not wearing, or if people know who I am or not, I am wasting time not writing, not doing my assignments correctly, and adding unnecessary gray hairs.

My parents raised me better than that!

I look back at all of this and realize it is really silly. However, I had to confess this because the first step to healing is to admit your mistakes. I am transparent in acknowledging the mistakes I have made, and I have made lots of them!

I feel lighter. I am going back to work on my assignments now.

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Doug Ducey and The Flood

The past week

This past week, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey visited my school for his annual education tour of Arizona schools. The weeks prior to his visit, the school was buzzing with preparations. We had a select few classes and students to make glorious presentations for the governor – and it was a very exciting, yet stressful time for all teachers and administrators.Doug_Ducey_by_Gage_Skidmore_10

Needless to say, the visit was warm and welcoming and best of all, the students behaved and the governor was impressed.

[Insert silence here. Maybe a round of applause or quiet clapping].

Doug Ducey visited my journalism class. It was a topsy turvy effort that molded into a “mock press conference.” We had planned to ask the governor some poignant questions about Freedom of the Press for high school journalism students because last year the Arizona legislation markedly indicated that high school reporters did not have the same right as professional journalists. Other issues they wanted to know is why did he cut the education budget and pour more money into the prisons. My students did their homework.

Unfortunately, when the questions were sent to his office, they were changed or altogether replaced with “cute questions about what he does for fun, and his plans for the Teacher Academy to recruit more people in the STEM areas (and for those of you who think that STEM is the part of the apple or cherry…no…it stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). Since our school is a STEM school, this question was relatable.

My students wanted to know why their teachers are not getting paid equally as other teachers in the nation.

But, we were quashed. We were silenced.

My students shined and smiled, and even had Ducey do some selfies with them, after all, they are teenagers. He was impressed with my group because we abided by the rules of the Ducey team. This wasn’t the time or place to get into controversial conversations, I get it, and they did too.

But to add to my chagrin about impressing him, our school became a beautiful sanctuary! The rain-stained ceiling tiles were replaced – the walls were painted and beautifully decorated with awesome positive quotes. Banners were hung with the various accomplishments of the school, and I walked into a place that was the beginning of something great! I’m not complaining about the beautification of the school…no…but it took a person who came into the governor’s office and placed Arizona’s state of education last on his list in order for us to make the school look better!

Not only that but for the past seven years, the road next to the school was pocked with potholes! Driving down that road every morning and afternoon was disastrous for tires and shocks on your car; however, weeks before the governor’s visit, the road was razed and paved to a smooth path! Some former graduates who dropped off their younger siblings mocked “Oh, now that I’ve graduated they paved the road – after all the damage it did to my car!”

Everyone can say what they want, but it was all for the governor. Everything we did was to show the governor that we are doing well despite his budget cuts. Although we are hurting on the inside, although teachers are struggling to make ends meet (or maybe that’s my personal issue), we showed the governor that he can continue to cut the budget because we’re surviving.

Arizona is ranked 43rd in education and 49th in education funding.

I will repeat the statement.

Arizona is ranked 43rd in education and 49th in education funding.

As we all know there are 50 states in this great country of ours.

My school is a charter school – a school of choice. Therefore, compared to a district school, the funding is lower per pupil. My principal said, in passing, that we lost about $300,000.00 this year due to cuts in the budget.

Now, I’m quoting from other sources, but Ducey is proud and repeats the top 10 best schools in the nation includes 3 schools in Arizona. That’s great, but those three schools are from the Basis Charter school system – the same Basis that now has a school in China.

When Ducey addressed the journalism students, he touted about how he helped regain the money (Proposition 123) to help increase teacher salaries.

I’m still struggling.

He is also proud of convincing other states to follow him in providing a high-stakes Civics Test for high school students. But, the quality of education is still poor, despite the wonderful efforts of my many colleagues in education. We have the passion to get our students to a level of understanding the world even if it spits in your face; wipe it off and keep fighting, is what I say.

So, in the end, Ducey was highly impressed with our students – and I am happy about that. I’m glad we made a great impression on him, and I hope that when he goes to sleep at night, he will dream about their little faces and presentations, and he’ll wake up one day and say, “I need to help our education system. They need more money!”

[Rolling my eyes].

The next day after his visit, Trump arrived in Phoenix. He held a rally and alluded to pardoning former Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio. After he left Phoenix, he made good on his promise, of course. Saturday Night Live created a parody of the rally in Phoenix, including the African-American man who held a sign that read “Blacks for Trump.”

Really?

And, the most catastrophic event that happened in this country is Hurricane Harvey that struck most of Texas, and it is still occurring.

The flood waters are billowing as the rain continues to pour. Since my parents came from Houston, Texas, most of the Watson family still resides there, and I am concerned. Thank God prior to the publishing of this blog, they’ve all sent a sign that they’re OK.

Ducey and the flood. It doesn’t really relate, but in my mind…it kind of does.

 

A Long Walk to Losing Weight

I am overweight.

It’s funny because when I say this out loud to other people, their brows furrow and their heads shake.

“No, you’re not.”

Yes. Yes. I am overweight. In fact, my doctor told me that I am overweight and I need to lose weight. A few years ago, I underwent bariatric surgery. It was successful for a few months, then, the weight began to creep up again. Needless to say, I cannot overeat because my stomach is small, but I was eating the wrong foods!

Along with diabetes, my diet radically changed as my doctor scribbled out referrals and orders for blood tests. I am on the other side of 55, which means I’m closer to 60 than 50, and I need to finally take care of my body the right way.

There were times when I said to myself: “Who cares? I am going to eat and be happy.”

Yeah, right.

I am not comfortable with my weight. My knees hurt. When I climb the staircase in my home, I’m breathing heavily. I don’t feel good. My taste buds love the food, but the inside of my body and bones are suffering. I cannot lie to myself any longer; being overweight does not feel right at all.

I was skinny as a young girl. Many people thought something was wrong with me. I mean, I didn’t look like a skeleton, but I was tall, very thin, and I ate food. I was active (and that’s part of my issue since I am not that active anymore). I had always thought that I would NEVER gain weight.

I was wrong.

As soon as I moved out of my parents’ house to California, I began to gain weight…gradually. My first apartment was down the street from In N Out Burgers. I didn’t cook so I ate out. I didn’t work out in the traditional sense. Every weekend I was out clubbing, so I considered dancing my exercise!

But, along with being a new adult and trying to pay bills, work, getting in debt, trying to date, the stress levels went up and I ate!

So here I am, years later and silently cursing my young self for not paying attention. I am on a journey to lose 75 pounds – I must get to the ideal weight for my height.

Before you make comments about what diet to choose, and which gym to join, I am on a plan directed by doctor. I have to do it right.

The other day, I looked up a healthy grocery list, bought the groceries, and literally wiped out my kitchen of the junk and unhealthy foods that I engrossed myself in (bread, pizza slices, etc.).

I am not a good cook, and I will admit that to anyone. My mother was an excellent cook and my sister, Elaine, emulates our mother’s cooking. She was blessed with that talent; unfortunately, I wasn’t. With that being said, it is a challenge for me to make meals – I can do it, but it takes so much effort and preparation.

I have such supportive family and friends. When they heard that my doctor suggested I do intermittent fasting and eat low carb and low fat food. My colleagues said they would join me, my family sent me recipes, videos, love and prayers when I told them.

I am going to execute this plan because I want to feel refreshed and I want to challenge myself!

My first step was the grocery shopping and the second step was meal prepping. I prepared little egg muffins that I received from my niece. With egg whites and almond milk, I poured in spinach leaves, turkey sausage, tomatoes, green chili, mushrooms, and cheese into muffin tins. Wow! It turned out so well and tasted so good!

Success! I was so happy and confident! These little victories! I took the rest and put them in the freezer for my breakfast during the week. My sister sent me a video from a doctor she follows on YouTube and I learned about the 12:12 Intermittent fasting: Stop eating three hours before bedtime (for example, if my bedtime is at 10:00 p.m., then I need to stop eating at 7:00 p.m.), eat breakfast the next morning around 7:00 a.m., eat lunch, eat dinner and start the fasting over again. It’s for a beginner like me.

Anyway, it’s a start for me. I am excited because I have lost five pounds since beginning this journey and I promised myself something big if I lose 25 pounds by December!

Stay tuned for more of my journey to lose weight.

Soul Poetry

It makes me wonder

All of the positive vibes, words of wisdom, scriptures on social media

And the world is still rotten.

There are glimpses of love and sincerity –

if you blink an eye, someone will smile – even under masks.

People lie saying “I hate wearing masks because I can’t smile at people or see people smile at me!”

Did you smile before? Did you smile back at others?

Do we wear masks over our masks?

Do we need to separate our darker selves?

Yes!

The demolition of our souls – the rebuilding of our spirits is underway.

I offer words of calm and comfort.

Peace.

Tranquility.

Joy.

Love.

Especially love.

Our souls need love.

I’m not wrong about this – everyone is wondering

Some are wondering is there a God? Some of us know there is.

Can you see the wind to know it is wind? You feel it. We feel God.

What does God feel like?

When I smile behind a mask, people will know it.

When I take off the mask, I will keep smiling.

I have removed the mask that has hidden my heart for so long.

I am free to love and to share that love and joy!

When I write something on social media, I believe it.

I’m not afraid of loneliness

I’m not afraid of standing alone

What I believe is something I cannot concoct in my own mind.

The rain falls and cleanses the Earth –

How will you cleanse your soul?

The Vaccine: What a Trip!

Last Friday, I received my second an final vaccine against COVID-19. When I received the shot in the upper part of my left arm, and listened to the banter of the medical staff, I thought about the thousands of people who died of COVID. Over 400,000 Americans passed away over a period of a year, and now we are lined up in cars to receive the vaccine.

I thank God for science.

I received the Pfizer vaccine and yes, the second dose began building up my immunity about 1 a.m. Saturday morning. I woke up to body aches, chills, and a fever as high as 101.8. I looked up “side effects of the Pfizer Vaccine” and saw that yes, I was experiencing the side effects. My body was building immunity, as I kept thinking about feeling uncomfortable, hot and cold at the same time. I told my friend that I felt like my body was exploding.

Everyone’s journey with the vaccine, whether it’s with Moderna or Pfizer, people experienced different results.

The point to my blog today is to tell people to please register to get your vaccination. I know the supply is short right now, but it will eventually there will be enough for everyone. I am that confident in our current administration to get this done.

Most of us who have experienced the side effects think about the suffering of those who had COVID-19. One day of body aches, fever, and chills are nothing compared to those who were on respirators or in induced comas. I am glad to get the vaccination.

And, to those who think that they are injecting a microchip into our bodies – again – I’d rather have that than COVID.

Oh, America

This is in response to the horrible event that happened this past week.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lady Liberty dropped her torch in the Atlantic and removed the crown from her head.

She lowered her eyes as she heard the cries and whispered, “Democracy is dead.”

The anger filtering through the fields among America’s waves of grain,

And the hope of a better community slowly began to drain.

Flags were waved and tossed as they climbed the walls like imps from hell,

With murder on the lips of men, the crack grew longer on the Liberty Bell!

The lies and infection of the damned insurrection

Caused politicians to stop and stare

As our foreign allies and enemies laughed and glared.

The broken windows, offices wrecked, senators in crisis as they kneel

but in the spirit of fighting for freedom, democracy they did not steal.

This land is soaked with more than blood;

The tears and sweat of slaves and free caused a flood.

Resiliency, prayer, hope, and faith will never die.

Strength will come day after day; peace will not pass us by.

Oh America! Oh America! God will shed His grace on thee

and we will repair the brokenness to create great unity!

Next Year is Friday

Do Not Set a High Bar for Yourself in 2021

This Friday begins 2021.

I have seen people with their avatar pushing a stone-looking 2020 out of the picture on Facebook.

It’s cute and funny. We all get it.

2020 was awful because we all had to change our behavior when gathering together or attending public places. We had to stay at home, work from home, order food from home. There were drastic changes!

As a teacher, I had to adjust to teaching online. That was a real change because most of my curriculum was based on in-person learning. I wouldn’t be a teacher if I didn’t know how to be flexible and a problem-solver. As teachers we were stressed to keep learning “as normal” which was a tall order for many teachers who were not accustomed to teaching online or tech-savvy. We had to learn new tools such as Schoology to keep our lessons organized and accessible for our students.

Then, we had to go back into the school building with students whose parents wanted them to be there and teach them at the same time with the students online! Teachers were near exhaustion and in tears because we taught black squares with just the students’ names during our Zoom sessions.

It was depressing! I teach ninth-graders, and some of them are new! I had to ask some of them to turn on their camera because I had no idea how they looked! I didn’t know who I was teaching for most of 2020!

After Thanksgiving, teachers were given a choice to teach from home again. I chose because I have asthma and I am a diabetic; and, the COVID numbers increased. The first-responders have it hard to ease the pain of the afflicted with the disease and teachers have to be present and aware while teaching with a mask.

Now we have a vaccine or vaccines available to fight against Coronavirus. In Arizona, they are looking to inoculate educators next because we need to get our students back into school. I have to admit that I have my reservations about the vaccine, but what else can I do? I get the flu shot every year and I do well with it overall; however, I am unsure about the vaccine’s strength and aggressiveness. Science like this usually takes years and years to get it right, but these pharmaceutical companies are sure of the vaccines, even after spurts of studies.

I have the feeling that everyone wants to leave 2020 behind, but in reality, we cannot do that. The beginning months of 2021 will have remnants of 2020. The beginning of a new presidential administration will be a relief, yet, the Biden-Harris team will have a lot to clean up and sort out after Trump leaves office. We can’t expect miracles to occur in the first few weeks; this is when we will need a lot of patience.

Also, I am not going to claim a resolution that I will not keep. There are small goals that I promise not to ignore anymore. For one, I want to keep writing. I enjoy writing and I want to continue to enjoy it. I want to start reading for enjoyment and relaxation again because reading is something I enjoy! I want to take walks around the neighborhood and the university because I love the fresh air and my dog loves being outside too. If you noticed, I did not mention I lose weight or save money, or eat well. That doesn’t mean I will not do those things, but I will not put them on a list of priority resolutions – I refuse to flow with traffic because 2021 has to begin differently than other years prior.

We have changed in the last few months in 2020. Our attitudes toward health and well-being have shifted. It is a no-brainer that taking care of ourselves should and will always be at the forefront. Therefore:

I will continue to wear a mask even after I receive the vaccination.

I will continue to wash my hands (as I have always done).

I will continue to physically distance myself from others.

Yes, we will embrace 2021 like a hero rescuing people from sudden disaster; but, we cannot go back to what we have known before all of this has happened. Too many people have died from COVID (over 300,000 in the United States) for us to think we can resume business as usual. Maybe I watch the news too much, but I am trying to be a realist.

I am sharing this with all of you: Do not set a high bar for yourself in 2021. Take it easy and enter 2021 quietly and gently. Be kind to yourself – love yourself – take care of yourself mentally first. We are exiting a rough ride, and we need time to breathe and set a course to learn what 2021 will bring us.

After all, 2021 is on Friday.

Football is Life!

 I am a woman who loves football!

I have a favorite team: Dallas Cowboys, and no matter how many haters are out there, I am a true-blue fan! Ever since I could understand the game of football, I loved to watch it!

My brothers played football – my oldest brother played football in college and I was excited to go watch him play in Phoenix.

selective focus close up photo of brown wilson pigskin football on green grass
Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur Pexels.com

“We gonna watch Eric play feetball!”

My parents told me that I would say while sitting between my parents on the road on I-10 to Phoenix. When we would meet my brother on the field after the game, I stood stretching my neck and eyes up to see these guys towering above me! They all smelled sweaty and had dirty uniforms after a rough game. They didn’t look like 18 or 19-year-old boys – they looked like older adults. Well, to me at that time, they were older men!

So, my taste of football started early, and I have enjoyed watching the game ever since! I don’t know exactly what it is about football, but it is entertaining and exciting! Even if my favorite team is not playing, I will watch football. My friend always asks, why do I watch other teams? I don’t know! It’s not like I’m scouting how they play – I enjoy watching the game!

I had a stint in sports writing for a newspaper when I was younger, and I had dreamed about writing for Sports Illustrated one day. Well, that didn’t work out. I wondered if I could ever coach football, but, of course, I didn’t pursue that fantasy either.

I would love to own a football team (pipedream). However, I satisfy all of these dreams by playing fantasy football on ESPN. I have a team called the Pandemonium Pandas. Right now, my team is 3rd in the league.

I guess I am rambling on about football because, during this pandemic, I was glad to see that the NFL decided to go ahead with the season. Yes, a few teams suffered from COVID issues, but so far, the season has continued. It’s too bad about the college football season since they decided to cut it short, and many college teams who might have had excellent chances for bowl games did not make it.

When football season is over – there is a lull for me. It is anti-climatic. I can get into the NBA games (my favorite team is Boston, btw) but it doesn’t give me that same sense of excitement as football does!

I believe the field of football has opened so many opportunities for females! There is an assistant coach on the San Francisco 49ers; there is a female official, more women are seen on ESPN/NFL LIVE and calling games! Finally, I don’t feel like a freak of nature because I love the sport! I wrote a short story titled “Football Freaks” about a family whose lives gravitate around football: the husband is a winning high school football coach, the wife is a doctor, twin sons who play in the NFL, a son who is a standout high school quarterback, another son who is in little league football, and the baby, who is their only daughter. I am excited to work on this concept into a novel!

I can compare football to life: everybody is on a team, and everybody on that team has a specific role on the team. A quarterback is a person who usually executes the plan for each player – carefully guiding them through the obstacles. As you know, we are either on the offensive or defensive side of life (or both sides). And there are so many optional plays to make to get to our goals. When something attacks us, we need a plan and help from others to execute that plan. I guess that is why I like football more than basketball; basketball focuses on the one who can shoot three pointers; I’ve seen players take the ball down the court, not pass it to another teammate, and dunk the ball to show off their skills.

Maybe that is why I love football – it is a team sport. At least in my eyes, it’s more of a team sport than basketball.

Imagine

There is a building over there that I have never been inside of

It might sound crazy, but there are some streets in my city that I have never driven on either.

I wonder sometimes when I can go wandering in my own backyard; when can I see those mysterious places that have eluded me for so long?

Everyday I work. I get up in the morning. I get ready for work. I work. I go home. I watch television. I eat. Play with my dog. Grade. Go to bed. And I dream.

I dream about airplanes falling from the sky. I dream about my parents driving around. I dream about living in this massive house with several rooms. I dream about monsters coming after me. Then I wake up, exhausted and start the day over again.

When will I be able to see the animals at the zoo again? When can I sit in the park and listen to nothing?

I remember a time when I didn’t feel so restless or tired. I want that again. I need that again.

Imagine breathing again! Imagine looking at everyone with a smile on your face and when they ask “How are you?” You can answer: “I’m feeling energized!”

Oh, COVID. Oh, pandemic. Oh, working online.

Wearing a Bra

Yes, that is correct. I am going to write about wearing a bra. That confounding trap that most women wear daily until they are at home and decide not to leave for the rest of the day, then the bra becomes a slingshot.

But, the bra is containment that suppresses freedom. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not asking women to burn their bras or go braless (I, for one, cannot do that in public); I am wondering how many women are in charge of companies that make bras?

Now history tells me that the trademark and patent for the brassiere was granted to Mary Phelps Jacob. With two handkerchiefs and ribbons, Jacob maneuvered the material to lift and separate the breasts to adjust to the fashion and style during that era.

Well, in any case, the confinement of a bra has become my nemesis ever since the pandemic. Now don’t get me wrong, as a teacher who teaches online, I do wear the appropriate clothing; however, after work, I am faster than a speeding bullet when it comes to taking off the bra. Some of you might be thinking that I have ill-fitting bras, and you might be right. What I want to know is “Is there a comfortable bra out there?”

I am looking for a bra that is soft and doesn’t grind into my skin underneath my breasts or on my shoulder blades. Also, it needs to be affordable! Any type of women’s product is always so expensive!

So, if you know of such a bra, please let me know in the comment section and I will try it out!

“How” to be Thankful in the Time of COVID

There is a sweep across social media by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – the gratitude challenge. While I don’t agree with the LDS’ doctrine, I am thankful that they are in agreement to soak social media with grateful words and thoughts.

Therefore, as a non-LDS member, but a Christian and a woman who loves to reflect, I want to say Thank you to God for sustaining me and keeping me healthy through these critical months. I thank God daily for waking me up and allowing me to work when so many people have lost their jobs – lost their loved ones during this year.

I have to be honest. I get downright angry because of the many decisions made in this country and at my job. I complain, yes, and I cry. There are times that people may think I have no faith in my God; it’s not that at all. I don’t have faith in myself. There is a scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that reads “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” When I get beaten down, I feel God’s power surround me and I keep getting back up. I will not stay down.

What can we be thankful for? 2020 has been inundated with trials, heartaches, uncertainties, anxieties. We have seen businesses close, people lose their jobs; churches closed and schools educating their students online. We’ve seen the number of deaths from COVID and they are still rising – even as we enter into the holiday season. But, you ask, what can we be thankful for?

Be thankful for the hope that is soon approaching. We have voted in an administration that is focused on the health and safety of the Americans – the administration that is not about the “me” attitude but the “US” direction. I am thankful that we will have a president who takes the duty of the presidency seriously.

However, this is what I am feeling today. Many families have lost loved ones due the COVID-19 pandemic. I have had close friends who have lost relatives and I sympathize with them. How do these grieving families embrace Thanksgiving? Perhaps they can look around has supported them through the tough times.

It’s funny. Every time I get to the end of one of my blogs, I reread and I ask myself “What’s my point? What am I trying to share?” Well, this is not a how-to blog. It is a “when you feel thankful, be thankful” message.

I’m not going to tell you how to be thankful. Be thankful because you want to be.

Thank you to my siblings: Doris, Elaine, and Timmy for reminding me how much our parents loved us.

Thank you to my family: For loving your aunt even if she doesn’t reach out as much as she should!

Thank you to my friends: For the calls, the laughter, the complaints, the listening ears.

Thank you to my church: A church that didn’t miss a beat during this pandemic. We don’t need walls to praise the Lord – we need each other!

Thank you to my former students: They checked in with me and asked if I needed anything during this time of COVID.

2021. We will welcome you and embrace you. There may be remnants of 2020 that we will bring with us, but I am hoping those particles will dissipate as we move forward to a hopeful and healing year.

History Tells Us…

My colleague mentioned how he wanted to share George Washington’s Farewell Address with his 11th grade English class because Washington placed some warnings in his address that we are witnessing right now. This piqued my interest as I never have closely read the address; it is lengthy and not my type of reading, but I was very interested in Washington’s warnings when it came to political parties.

Washington was in pain and did not want to seek another term. He resigned from the presidency, but before he left the highest office in the United States, he had James Madison and Alexander Hamilton help him draft the speech. Washington asked that people put their selfish needs aside and come together in unity. He said, “Your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty and…the love of the one ought to endear you to the preservation of the other.” Together as one…together we’re free.

Although the government was young and Washington was the first president, he could see some demons surrounding political parties – maybe not 200 years into the future – but some insight from his critics. Whatever the case may have been, one of Washington’s warnings was the loyalty of a political party over the nation was dangerous. Washington called voting according to loyalty of a particular political party rather than the common interest of the nation leads to a “spirit of revenge” and the rise of “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men” who would “usurp themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Hmm. This sounds familiar. Washington understood the hearts of men who didn’t think about the needs of the American people. Now, I know during this time, slavery was in existence and slaves were not considered men or women, but now that we are beyond that awful era, Washington’s words echo clear in 2020, especially what Trump is doing and not doing after the election.

Another pertinent warning Washington provided in his speech is entanglements with foreign governments. He believed that the United States needed to be on good terms with foreign nations, especially being neutral in their affairs; however, he believed that if the United States’ officials and political parties access “foreign influence and corruption.”

What I believe is that Washington’s words are manifesting themselves in the Republican party at this moment. I’m not saying that Democrats are innocent, but currently, in our lives, Washington’s warnings have not been heeded by our government. To be honest with you, I believe that Trump will want to create his own political party and create a second Civil War in this country.

However, I am hoping that the temper tantrums will cease and that some Republican official will open his or her eyes and say “Wait a minute! We are wasting money and time! We need to move forward.” Or, maybe a psychiatrist will say, “Seriously, Trump is sick. He exhibits the signs of (fill in the blank).”

I heard on the news that Biden isn’t worried about Trump. He is taking the high road. He’s not getting distracted by the “sore loser” tendency Trump is emitting. I don’t know if you noticed, but while Trump is self-absorbed in losing a suing states, COVID has immersed Americans and mobile morgues are back!

So, what is important? Pacifying a grown man who disregards American policies set up by the Founding Fathers? Or, trying to save our nation from the deadliest disease this world has ever seen to get our Americans back to work?

Revenge is not good, as Washington mentioned in his speech. The rise of unprincipled men (and women) is causing our country to look weak. I am not sure if Trump wants to resemble Putin, but his cronies are elevating him to a dangerous point of dictatorship.

Anyway, I found the speech interesting and a bit frightening. Hopefully those who read this will spread Washington’s warnings.